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Village Hall History

Hadspen Men’s Clubroom

After the end of World War One, there were a lot of young men living in Hadspen which was then very much a farming village. So around 1922 a club was formed by Mr F Golledge of Hadspen Farm.

At that time the thatched house on the corner (now Plaishett’s) belonged to Hadspen Farm. It was then four cottages. Three were lived in but the fourth was empty, so this fourth cottage became Hadspen Men’s Clubroom. It soon became a place where the village children had Sunday School. Lent services were held there and Holy Communion was received on the first Sunday of the month. Lilly Spratling became the first Sunday School teacher and was also secretary of the club.

Mrs Arthur Hobhouse of Hadspen House, later to become Lady Hobhouse, ran the Mothers’ Meeting every week. Mr Golledge later built a new room adjoining the old, in memory of his sister. It was called the New Church Room, where children’s parties were held in addition to the other activities. With this extra space available boys of 13-15 years were allowed to join and later, girls. However, they all had to leave by 9 o’clock so that the Men’s Club had time on their own.

The Old Hall

The club was now going well and held whist drives, dances and concerts. Around 1934-35 the fortnightly whist drives ran into trouble through holding their game during Lent, which resulted in a move towards establishing a secular Hall. Prominent among the supporters of this cause were Mrs Mabel Parker Rhodes of Honeywick House and Mr R M (Dick) Jennings of Hadspen Valley Farm. Dick’s father, Mr R F Jennings gave the land on which the Hall now stands and Dick, with Mrs Parker Rhodes and others set about raising funds. One memorable fete at Honeywick raised over £120, a considerable achievement for those days. Enthusiasm carried the day and the Hall started life as a village social centre virtually free from debt.

To ensure continuity, the Hall was registered as a charity with the Charity Commissioners on 25 February 1938. The original trustees were Mr Mark Dyer a retired civil servant who lived at Lark Hill and who was the first secretary to the Hall; Mrs M Parker Rhodes, Mr Dick Jennings and Mr G F Clothier, farmer of Bottom Barn Farm (now known as The Wildings).

Social activity waxed and waned according to the needs of the times. There were dances when the Hall was crammed to overflowing. Mrs Goodland who lived at Nettlecombe Cottage recalled the Hall serving primarily as a Men’s Club. It was also used for young people during pre-television evenings, and fortnightly for whist drives and occasionally for other functions.

Responsibility for the management of the Hall falls to a local committee established in accordance with the trust deed. The first organizations given the right to nominate a member of the Committee were the Mothers’ Union, the Whist Drive Club and the Social Club, The deed is drawn so as to allow the Committee to adapt to changes in social patterns. Provision is made for raising a mortgage, or for the discontinuance by sale or letting of the Hall, subject to approval by a village meeting and the Charity Commissioners. It has always been necessary to obtain grants from public funds towards modernisation and repair. Such grants have always been subject to a proportionate amount being raised locally so that self-help has always been imperative.

The New Hall

The old Hall survived for many years but in 1999 it became apparent following structural surveys that it would not be possible to renovate the old hall and the only course of action was to rebuild on the existing site and to try to acquire extra land adjoining the hall to create a new access and car park. A Parish meeting was held and it was agreed that the provision of a new hall would ensure that community activities would continue, would be accessible to all, especially the elderly and disabled, and would also preserve a centre for social interaction in the parish for the next generation which would otherwise be lost. Various feasibility studies and further residents’ surveys were performed and it was 2003 before plans were submitted to the District Council. Permission was granted in 2004.

Fund raising began in earnest and £85,000 was raised through various initiatives including, plant sales, quizzes, open gardens, auction of promises and a gift aid scheme. This was supplemented by grants from the county and district councils and a range of charitable foundations and local societies. Building of the new hall commenced in 2007 and was completed in 2008 at a total cost of £230,000. It stands today as a proud example of a hall built by the Community for the Community.